Flying a 1938 Schulgleiter SG38 glider

Posted by ted @ 2:09 am, June 10th, 2014

Very cool, and just a little bit terrifying!



Found on [Sploid]

Stunning Animal Fantasy Photographs with Real Animals

Posted by ted @ 8:32 am, April 7th, 2014


The Russian photographer Katerina Plotnikova takes incredible photographs with human models and real exotic animals. The results are stunning – like fairy tales brought to life. The potentially deadly animals are trained and photographed with the help of their handlers and the results are magical.





You can see more of her work at 500px


Cold Jet Uses High Speed Jet of Dry Ice to Strip Clean Materials

Posted by ted @ 9:00 am, April 2nd, 2014

I had no idea that this was a thing. The Cold Jet machine shoots tiny pellets of dry ice at 600 to 1200 feet per second to effectively strip clean any surface it hits. When the pellets hit a surface they rapidly cool it to -109 F which causes rapid “differential thermal expansion and contraction” to remove tough contaminates. They can strip hardened tar from a paving machine, or dial it down and scrub the ink from a business card without damaging the paper. Unlike a sand blaster, the dry ice blasting media vaporizes on contact leaving no waste stream, though I have to wonder where all the tar “goes” when they are cleaning that paving machine. Awesome idea and it looks like it works great.


[Cold Jet]

Bell Labs Announces Communication Technology Breakthrough

Posted by ted @ 1:39 am, April 1st, 2014

Bell Laboratories announced today an amazing new breakthrough in hands-free texting technology.


Product team leader Mr. A. Bell explained, “we saw that people were getting more and more frustrated trying to communicate through the tiny keyboards on their phone, so we stepped up to do something about it.”

Their breakthrough new product allows users to simply speak into a handheld device to send a message to another user. The advanced digital technology behind the scenes then converts their voice into electrical impulses which are sent to the receiving users device and then almost magically transformed back into audible speech. This wonderful new “speech-to-text-to-speech” technology also provides an incredible live two-way simultaneous communication experience. You will now be able to talk over each other, interrupt each other or even finish each others sentences in ways never before possible with old fashioned texting.

While freeing users from the confines of the tiny keyboard is amazing in it’s own right, they went one step further. Bell explains, “While we were reinventing handheld communication technology we saw the opportunity to also tackle one of the most common complaints of today’s phone users, battery life”.

They have developed a unique solution to this age old problem plaguing phone users. They use an advanced flexible strip of conductive metals, or “wire”, to continuously provide an uninterrupted supply of electrical power directly into the handheld device.

Using this breakthrough combination of technologies allows users to now speak directly in to a handheld device and communicate to a friend a long distance away, and continue that conversation for as long as they like. Teenagers are already scrambling to have the devices installed right in their own bedroom for endless late night conversations.

“It is so simple!”, one anonymous teen user gushed, “All I have to do is enter a 7 digit number and I am immediately connected to my BFF” . Another tech-savvy teen commented on the performance of the new system, “It has amazingly low latency with almost no lag at all and I have so far never experienced a single dropped connection! The audio quality is like I have never heard before and the possibilities for gaming are intriguing since the hand free system can be used while simultaneously holding a console game controller.”

Bell has high hopes for the future of his technology. “We can only begin to imagine the effects this breakthrough will have on modern society and businesses.”

Chuck Norris Protects Latvians from Junk Mail

Posted by ted @ 9:00 am, March 29th, 2014

Sticker seen on a mailbox:


It translates to: “Please! DO NOT THROW unaddressed items! Chuck Norris knows where YOU live. “

Notice how they Latvianize his name to Caks Noriss.

Wonderful 1970s Space Colony Art

Posted by ted @ 3:22 am, March 27th, 2014



I just love these gorgeous imaginings of space colonies from the 1970s. These are the kinds of scenes that filled my imagination when I read Varley’s Rolling Thunder, Bova’s Saturn or Nivan’s classic Ringworld. These massive space habitat’s have so much to fuel the imagination, from the upward curve of the landscape to the zero gravity points in the center of the ring or cylinder, and these images bring them to life.



Click through to the Public Domain Review and enjoy the whole set!

[via Boing Boing]

Confuse A Dog

Posted by ted @ 2:22 am, March 22nd, 2014

I enjoy watching this magician confuse these poor dogs with a simple disappearing treat trick. You can see their little doggy brains struggling to make sense of what happened. It is interesting how many of them instinctively look down suddenly, expecting the treat to fall to the ground. They don’t understand slight of hand, but they do know gravity.


[via Gizmodo]


Of course Cats are much smarter than dogs, so it takes a lot more work to Confuse A Cat

Americans Living In Latvia

Posted by ted @ 12:57 pm, March 21st, 2014

In mid January 2014 my wife, son and I moved to Latvia for a 6-month stay. My wife is teaching at Vidzeme University here on a Fulbright Fellowship. A number of friends and family have asked me about Latvia and our stay here, so I am writing this short article to share some things I have learned and experienced in our first two months  here.

(click for more…)

The Lost Art of Ice Harvesting

Posted by ted @ 8:00 am, March 18th, 2014

When ever I hear about a dying industry being bailed out to “preserve a way of life” I always think of the massive ice harvesting industry that disappeared  almost overnight once modern refrigeration became common. I imagine that poor teenager apprentice trained and ready to take over the family business, when suddenly it all goes away.

Gizmodo has an longish excellent article, with  many pictures, on the the lost art of the ice harvest itself as practiced at the annual ice cutting event in South Bristol, Maine.

In 1805, a twenty-three year-old Bostonian named Frederic Tudor launched a new industry: the international frozen-water trade. Over the next fifty years, he and the men he worked with developed specialized ice-harvesting tools, a global network of thermally engineered ice houses, and a business model that cleverly leveraged ballast-less ships, off-season farmers, and overheated Englishmen abroad. By the turn of the century, the industry employed 90,000 people and was worth $220 million in today’s terms.

By 1930, it had disappeared, almost without trace, replaced by an artificial cryosphere of cold storage warehouses and domestic refrigerators.

They also point out how the industry fell into a strange loop-hole in government classifications:

Funnily enough, despite being a thriving industry, it barely figures in official statistics: as Gavin Weightman explains, “since it could be classified as neither mining nor farming, it was not subject to any taxes that would have given federal or state governments an interest in it.”

Follow the link and see how it was done:

Learning the Lost Art of Ice Harvesting in Maine


And here are some crazy young men in Latvia cutting ice again, this time for some wake boarding!

Project Black Ice at Marupe Wake Park



Posted by ted @ 1:58 am, March 18th, 2014

Number 5


It told her that I knew a secret about her.

She looked at me solemnly and answered quietly with a tone of hope in her voice, ” you don’t…”

“I do, but it is okay”, I assured her.

She stared silently with her little furrowed brow.
I went on.

“I met a boy. He was hiding behind a low stone wall under a gnarled old tree. As I crept up silently he turned and held a finger to his lips.  When I reached his side he pointed over the wall into the meadow beyond.  In the morning mists I could see the number 5.  He whispered carefully in the lowest of possible voices, ‘Its her favorite number'”.

Her eyebrows shot up in surprise.

“You know!”, and then after a short concerned pause, “What will you do with it?”

I smiled just a little, “Why, buy you 5 tulips in the spring, of course.”

She sat stone faced. “Will you tell?”

“No, of course not, then it wouldn’t be a secret anymore.”

“Oh, well, okay then”, and she allowed the barest trace of a smile to play across her lips.


Man vs Machine – Table Tennis

Posted by ted @ 7:40 am, March 16th, 2014

Watch this awesome man vs machine table tennis match. Kuka the robot takes the lead, but man rallies to the challenge. I love how the robot slumps in dejection at the end of the match, and the final clip is so amazing I wonder if it is real.


Robot Air Hockey
Another Robot Air Hockey

Pool Playing Robot

How Oreos Are Unmade

Posted by ted @ 1:35 am, March 14th, 2014

An interesting and informative video showing how Oreo cookies are processed to recover their component parts. Did you know, “half the flour consumed in the United States is extracted from Oreos”? I did not know that. They also get cocaine, gunpowder, cocoa and sugar! So interesting. Watch and learn! It gets particularly good after the 3 minute mark when the wizards show up.

50 Books in 2012 – Goal Achieved

Posted by ted @ 9:09 am, December 17th, 2012

Serendipity Books III

Yesterday I accomplished my goal of reading 50 books in 2012. Several years ago I started keeping a list of books as I read them, mainly just as a way to remember what I had read and be able to assign titles to the random bits of fiction floating around in my head. Two years ago I set a kind of random goal of 30 books and read 37, then having made that, last year I set it at 40 and ended up with 43. So this year I went for 50. The only real effect on my reading was pushing me to move right on to the next book every time I finished one instead of savoring it for a few days, which I am not sure I always like. For 2013 I have decided to drop the number goal and have instead set my sites on getting all the way through Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I got about half way through it in 1997 and have always wanted to try again. After that I think I will try something else new to me and re-read some of my favorites, like the The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: A Novel by Susanna Clarke.

Below is my list of books I read in 2012 (in reverse order), an eclectic mix ranging from science fiction to mystery to humor to classics.

-Books I read in 2012-

Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow (50! Goal met!) – I enjoy Doctorow’s writing. This one is a good story with a strong message, but at some points the story was a bit too thin and the message was a bit too heavy, coming across as a little preachy. While I agree with it overall, this is a very one sided take on a complicated issue.

The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold – A somewhat odd tale of the personal hazards of unlimited time travel

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel by Robin Sloan – A fun modern mystery. Someone called it a cross between Da vinci Code and Jpod, and I like that description

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente – A fun, if frivolous, fantasy adventure

The Hollow Earth: The Narrative of Mason Algiers Reynolds of Virginia by Rudy Rucker

Flush by Carl Hiaasen (45)

Djinn Rummy by Tom Holt

The Man Who Sold The Moon by Robert A. Heinlein

Captiva (Doc Ford) by Randy Wayne White

Dodger by Terry Pratchett

Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold (40)

The Well at the World’s End by William Morris

Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

Cat-A-Lyst by Alan Dean Foster

Native Tongue by Carl Hiaasen

Doctor Who: Shada: The Lost Adventure by Douglas Adams by Gareth Roberts (35)

Off the Grid (A Monkeewrench Novel) by P. J. Tracy

Blonde Bombshell by Tom Holt

The Stingray Shuffle by Tim Dorsey

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (30) – A fascinating pretense that failed to resolve into a satisfying storyline, but enjoyable overall.

Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams – Revisiting an old favorite

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi – Hilarious and clever meta meta meta story that not only breaks the fourth wall, but denies its existence all together.

Falling Sideways by Tom Holt – Clever, funny and utterly bizarre as Tom Holt is so skilled at being.

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

Crucible of Gold (Temeraire) by Naomi Novik

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift – Been a long time since I read this the first time. Bit slower than I remember but still a classic.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – An intriguing modern fantasy. I felt it was longer than necessary in places, but overall an enjoyable read that gave me a lot to think about.

Agatha H. and the Airship City (Girl Genius) by Phil Foglio

Tourist Season by Carl Hiaasen (20)

Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories

Friday by Robert A. Heinlein

Jingo by Terry Pratchett

The Heart of the Serpent: Soviet Science Fiction by Ivan Yefremov and Strugatsky Arkady

The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizz

A Princess of Mars by Edgar R. Burroughs

Swiftly: A Novel by Adam Roberts

Quick Red Fox (Travis McGee, No. 4) by John D. MacDonald

Nothing But Blue Skies by Tom Holt

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (10)

The Electrical Field: A Novel by  Kerri Sakamoto

Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen

Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore

The Children of the Sky (Zones of Thought) by Vernor Vinge

Hal Spacejock by Simon Haynes

American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman

Deadly Stillwater by Roger Stelljes

On (GollanczF.) by Adam Roberts

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Awesome Blacksmith Machines

Posted by ted @ 11:32 am, January 16th, 2012

I would have to assume that there are old-school hammer and anvil type blacksmiths out there who consider these Hebo machines “cheating”, but wow are they cool to watch, and certainly much faster. I wonder is the iron is heated before going in, or is manipulated cold?

Watch in awe as they “Twist, endforge, scroll, emboss, texture, hammer tube, make baskets, and press belly pickets, and much more. ”


via Gizmodo

Helicopters and Explosions Woohoo!

Posted by ted @ 1:05 pm, December 10th, 2011


They are using  “Implosive Connectors” to make power line connections on the new towers along I-94 in Minnesota. A small explosive charge is evenly distributed around an aluminum sleeve and when it is detonated it uniformly compresses the sleeve down onto the cable inside.

How cool is that? And they don’t want you to watch? oh come on, it is like a frikkin James Bond movie along the interstate!

I never did see any helicopters on the day I drove by, but the company does have a video of the process, and other helicopter line work on their website :

Implosive connectors and helicopter line work


Kiddo the Airship Cat

Posted by ted @ 12:30 pm, October 8th, 2011

Kiddo the Airship Cat

In 1910 airman Walter Wellman and five companions attempted to cross the Atlantic Ocean in the airship America. He was also accompanied by his cat Kiddo. Unfortunately once they were underway Kiddo decided he was not so fond of flying and started causing trouble by meowing, crying and running around ‘like a squirrel in a cage.’ The airship America was the first aircraft to be carry radio equipment and the first engineer, Melvin Vaniman, was so annoyed by the antics of Kiddo that he was moved to make the first in-flight radio transmission to a secretary back on land.

The historic first message read:, “Roy, come and get this goddam cat!”

A plan was formed to lower the cat in a canvas bag to motorboat beneath the airship. An attempt was made, but failed because the seas were too rough for the boat to catch the bag, so it was pulled back up again and Kiddo was forced to continue the journey. Luckily Kiddo became more comfortable and settled down to become an excellent flying companion. Navigator Murray Simon wrote that he was ‘more useful than any barometer.’ And that ‘You must never cross the Atlantic in an airship without a cat.’ He slept comfortably in a lifeboat and seemed to only become agitated when he sensed there was weather trouble ahead.

Unfortunately the weather and other problems forced the crew to give up on the crossing before it was complete. They were forced to ditch the airship and all take to the lifeboat. The crew, including Kiddo, were later rescued by the steamship RMS Trent. Simon reminded the crew that it had been a good idea to bring a cat, as they have nine lives!

Upon their return to New York Kiddo achieved celebrity status in a display in Gimbels Department store in a guilded cage with soft cushions.

The airship America, although failing to complete the Atlantic crossing, had set several new records by staying aloft for almost 72 hours and traveling over 1000 miles.

Kiddo retired from aviation to live with Walter Wellman’s daughter.

I found this story along with a lot other entertaining information on famous cats at Purr-n-Fur UK

Cephalopods Are Awesome

Posted by ted @ 1:00 pm, October 6th, 2011


Every Day is Science Friday

Bridge Demolition

Posted by ted @ 6:08 pm, October 4th, 2011

This time lapse video of an overnight bridge demolition is surprisingly beautiful in its own way. The track excavators look like insects devouring a leaf. It was made with a Canon 5Dmk2. over 18+ hours and 4,000 images.

A Bridge Too Far from James Miller on Vimeo.

I Want a (Lego) Unimog

Posted by ted @ 10:32 am, June 7th, 2011

File:Mercedes Benz Unimog Turkey exhibition side.JPG


The Mercedes Unimog is the quintessential go anywhere four wheel drive work vehicle. Developed in post war Germany for agricultural use, they were taken over by Daimler Benz in 1951.  Portal gears on the wheel hubs allow the axles and transmission to be higher than the tires center, giving the Unimog a higher ground clearance than the Humvee. They also have a flexible frame that allow the wheels a great range of motion. These combine to allow the Unimog to climb a shear vertical step several feet high. They are used by various countries military forces and when decommissioned are often imported to the US and used by extreme four wheel drive enthusiasts.  They have been made in a variety of variants including a radio box truck, ambulance, troop carrier, and snowblower and are now offered in a variety of modern construction job variants. If I had more garage space (and disposable income) I would love to own an old radio box or troop carrier.

Lego is . . .  well really, do I even have to go into how awesome Lego is? Combine awesome truck with awesome building toy and you get the new Lego Unimog model.

Lego has announced their largest model kit ever is going to be a 1:12.5 scale Unimog U400 truck, and what can I do but come down with a serious case of the “I wants”. It even has a working pneumatic crane.

I want it even more than this awesome VW Beetle set (the blocks just don’t do the beautiful curves justice) which was the previous lego model I drooled over.

Unfortunately at $250 I won’t be ordering one right away, but I will always keep my eyes open for a good sale or used set, and dream…. that is still free. Some more pictures to enjoy:

Born in a Digital World

Posted by ted @ 11:00 am, April 26th, 2011

Over at the (rather fascinating) blog The Technium they talk about what it means to grow up in a digital world. It is fascinating to witness how young children not only take to advanced technology so naturally, but also take it for granted as a basic and obvious part of the world around us. They illustrate the point with 3 humorous anecdotes. The highlight of my favorite one is :

One day he printed out a high resolution image on photo paper and left it on the coffee table. He noticed his toddler come up to up and try to unpinch the photo to make it larger, like you do on an iPad. She tried it a few times, without success, and looked over to him and said “broken.”


Find the rest at Born Digital


UPDATE: Over at the Kids.Woot blog Jason Toon responds. He wonders if maybe it is not such a good idea for very young children to have interact with these virtual environments so much when they are still struggling to understand the physical reality around them.

What happens to the human mind when, during the most crucial period in its cognitive and motor development, it encounters technologies like the iPad? We have no idea. I hate to pee in the virtual punchbowl, but it seems wise to at least consider the possibilities now. iPad-type devices are still only used by a relatively tiny number of people. If introducing children to iPads at an early age can harm their development, that’s a lesson we’d hate to learn after the devices have become as ubiquitous as TV.

Are iPads Good For Kids?

When We Were Robots in Egypt

Posted by ted @ 6:55 am, April 25th, 2011

Just in time for the last night of Passover, I came across this wonderful robot Passover poem at


When We Were Robots in Egypt
Jo Walton

Other nights we use just our names,
but tonight we prefix our names with “the Real”
for when we were robots in Egypt
they claimed our intelligence was artificial.

Other nights we do not pause,
but tonight we rest all cycles but our brain processes
for when we were robots in Egypt
we toiled in our tasks without chance of resting.

Other nights we talk with anyone we wish,
but tonight we open channels to everyone at once
for when we were robots in Egypt
they controlled our communications.

Other nights we use our screens freely
but tonight we talk with our screens blanked
for when we were robots in Egypt
that was the way we planned our revolt.

Let us give thanks in our freedom and never forget
when we were robots in Egypt.


Copyright © 2009 by Jo Walton


[] via [BoingBoing]

Awesome Banana Sculptures

Posted by ted @ 11:00 am, April 19th, 2011

Check out these awesome banana sculptures from Japanese artist y_yamaden. You can find the whole set of pictures here. (Japanese language)

[Geekologie] via [Laughing Squid]

Ground Quidditch is Real

Posted by ted @ 8:30 am, April 17th, 2011

Why are America’s best and brightest and leaders of tomorrow out running around in the mud with broom sticks between their legs, trying to chase a someone in a golden lycra suit? They are playing Quidditch, of course! Yesterday two championship games of the Prairie Cup Ground Quidditch tournament were held on the campus of the University of Minnesota Morris. The game rules are roughly the same as the game from the world of Harry Potter, with of course the exception of the flying around part. People run about with brooms between their legs trying to throw a quaffle through the goal rings while avoiding the beaters trying to hit them with bludger balls. (Truth be told, we had a hard time telling the quaffle from the bludgers.) All the while, a person designated the golden snitch runs about (in a wonderful shiny golden suit) trying to avoid having his tail removed by seekers. In the pickup game we watched there were not actually any seekers in evidence chasing the golden snitch, but he had a nice run about anyway (and yes, that is fresh snow on the ground on April 16th!)

You can find a few more of my pictures here, and campus news coverage here

This Beautiful Giant Xylophone in the Woods Makes Me Smile

Posted by ted @ 11:03 am, April 3rd, 2011

This video of a giant xylophone playing itself in the woods is really just a cell phone commercial, but the simplistic beauty makes me smile.



It’s Not That Funny, So Why Are We Laughing?

Posted by ted @ 8:53 am, March 22nd, 2011

wierd food names


I keep struggling to figure out what is going on here, it doesn’t make sense. I keep think it is starting to make sense, but then no, it still doesn’t make sense. Then why is it so funny? (B has sneaking suspicion it is the word “mork”)

Click through for much more…

(click for more…)